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An excellent example of land use in greater Chicago, the entire Skokie Valley Trail corridor is a rail-with-trail, paralleled by double tracks that sit about 40 feet to the west of the trail surface. The well-maintained asphalt path offers a nice, smooth experience for a multitude of uses. In addition, the trail shares right-of-way with a major electricity service company, and you will see high-voltage electrical wires overhead.
The trail connects Highland Park in the south to the northern trailhead in Lake Bluff. Although there is no parking or proper trailhead in Highland Park, you can park less than 0.25 mile to the south at the Village Square at Northbrook, a large shopping mall off Skokie Boulevard.
It's amazing to see how nature can flourish in such an urban environment. Even as you pass suburban Chicago life along each side of the corridor, it's not uncommon to come across rabbits, deer, blackbirds, hawks and robins among numerous tree and low-brush species. The trail is sandwiched between US 41 and the train tracks for most of its course, and there are several major road crossings. While these are well marked and include crosswalks, use caution when crossing.
The 200-plus-foot trail bridge over State Route 22 signals the midpoint of the trip. The remainder of the trail passes through mainly commercial and light industrial developments, and, as you approach Lake Bluff, some residential subdivisions. Just after you reach the Deerpath golf course in Lake Forest, the Skokie Valley Trail splits, with a short spur turning east toward the lake and ending at the Laurel Avenue trailhead.
The main trail carries on north another 1.45 miles, still paralleling US 41, to its terminus at State Route 176/Rockland Road. You'll pass through a tunnel under the train tracks just north of Laurel Avenue. At SR 176/Rockland Road, the trail connects to the North Shore Bike Path, which runs east–west along Rockland Road. Turn left on the trail and you can access the Des Plaines River Trail near Libertyville; turn right on the trail to join the Robert McClory Bike Path, which heads north into Wisconsin and south back towards Chicago.
A disconnected section of trail is open on the same corridor farther south in Skokie. Long-term plans call for this trail in Lake County to eventually connect to the Skokie Valley Trail in Cook County.
To access the trail in Highland Park (remember, there is no parking here), take Interstate 94 to Skokie Valley Road (US 41) north. After just under 1 mile, turn left on County Line Road. Access the trail from the gas station parking lot on the right, just past Skokie Valley Road. To park, take County Line Road to Skokie Road and turn left, traveling just 0.1 mile south to a large shopping mall on the left.
To reach the Lake Bluff trailhead from I-94, take W. Kennedy Road (County Road 60) east 1.5 miles. Turn left onto N. Waukegan Rd. (County Road 43), go 0.5 mile and turn right on W. Deerpath Road. After 1.4 miles, turn left on N. Green Bay Road (County Road 131) and travel for 0.7 mile. Turn left on E. Laurel Avenue. The trailhead (with parking), is just under a half mile away, at the dead end of Laurel Avenue.
Great trail for uninterrupted speed. Pretty boring so bring your headphones. You can park at either end for a smooth 20 mile ride¿¿
I live close to this trail and I use it about 5 times a week. Yes, it's boring, but it's safe and there aren't alot of dogs and people using the path. There are many other riders who use this path to train because the trail is wide, less traveled and not too bumpy (with tree roots). If you're looking for a scenic route, don't come here. It has power lines, traffic from route 41 and the train on the other side. However, I've seen deer, hawks, rabbits and tons of birds. I've grown to love this trail because it offers me the opportunity to do 15 miles daily, quickly and with safety. As a single woman rider, this is very important.
I wouldn't' think this is a bad bike path... it's fairly uninterrupted for 10 miles straight forward ride. If you are into more scenic with nature surrounding path, DPR trailer is not far away. I like to ride here just to spin a little bit outside. Also as for a parking in Lake Bluff end, on the east side of Mariani Landscape building, there is a small parking lot for the park, less than 1/4 mile, I would say 15 sec ride from there to the path.
Again, just for 20 mile roundtrip with uninterrupted bike path, this path is pretty decent. Yes, power tower above buzzing, but that does not affect my ride that much.
Today was beautiful--a surprising 65 degrees for late October with clear sunny skies. My fiancé and I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to escape Chicago for the day. We had heard that there was a fantastic, lush bike trail up in Skokie. Unfortunately, this was NOT the bike trail we were anticipating.
Upon arrival, we parked at some strip mall indicated by the website. We couldn't wait to hit the trail. As soon as we found it, I knew we had made a mistake.
~Paved bike path
~A few dry bushes at the southern part of the trail
~Post-world apocalyptic powerlines buzzing above you for the majority of the ride
~Runs parallel to train tracks on the left and a noisy highway on the right
~Eerily quiet for a beautiful day
~Not a single tree was passed during our ride
Conclusion: We ended up cutting our activity short and headed back to the Chicago lakefront. Frankly, we should have done that in the first place.
Having grown up on the NW side of Chicago my whole life and biking anywhere I could, I have wanted a longer ride. I have done the NBT and the loop at the Skokie Lagoons but wanted some more distance without having to repeat something. I found out about the Skokie Valley Trail and figured why not. While it is a short jaunt from the Skokie Lagoons on a rather busy street, it was well worth it. Pros to the trail: Relatively flat, smooth, well-maintained and the crossings are well marked and safer than others. The trail allows the rider to maintain constant speeds or strength/endurance train. It is lightly traveled so there isn't very many people to look out for, or small children. Cons to the trail: It's boring. I admit I read that and didn't think it could be that bad, but there is little to look at. The shade is limited, so bring water. Other than that, the trail is great and worth the ride up off the NBT or to just use as a 20 round trip ride if wanted.
I rode on this trail for the first time today. Overall, it's a very easy ride with only a few main road crossings, none of which required any significant effort/wait to cross. It's generally straight and flat, and completely paved from end-to-end. As such, it's more suited to road bikes than mountain/trail bikes. Trail is basically a narrow North/South green belt, with rail lines on one side and main roads on the other. As such, it's not very quiet, scenic nor does it provide much shade, but it does have a lot of greenery along the way. Mileage signs are in place every half-mile, so a good gauge of progress is available. Trail was fairly busy with riders on my Sunday morning ride, but most riders were courteous as they whizzed by us on our slower trail bikes. If you are in any way paranoid about high-voltage power lines, this trail is not for you, since they tower overhead more or less from end-to-end. You can even hear them buzzing above when its not noisy. Signs on trail indicate it's maintained on the North by Lake Bluff and on the South by Lake Forest; Kudos to both towns -- overall the trail is exceptionally well maintained, compared to others on which I've ridden. Pros ---- - Flat, straight and paved. - Very well maintained. - Well marked Cons ---- - Not for you if you want a shady, scenic ride. - No water fountains, off-trail benches nor restrooms along course. Overall, highly recommended, especially on cooler days.
If you're looking for a convenient, no-frills, mostly flat roadway to build up your endurance, this is a great trail for the purpose. Don't come here to enjoy picturesque views of flora and fauna: most of the scenery consists of power lines and the rear side of industrial complexes. But if you're looking for a minimally challenging, quiet space to work on your pacing / speed, the Skokie Valley Trail really fits the bill.
I enjoy straight and fast. this trail is it, in between the train tracks and the highway, the trail now goes all the way to Rt. 176. There is a Culver's ice cream about 3 miles to the west. If you go east, it will take you to the Green Bay Trail, which makes for a very nice twenty mile loop.
This is a great trail, very flat and smooth and easy to navigate. I was there on a Sunday afternoon and glad to see that there was not a lot of traffic on it. It is not particularly scenic nor quiet (you can hear the cars from the Interstate below) but nonetheless very enjoyable. I recommend it and will probably go back since it is very easy to get to.
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